There is a very powerful shift that is taking place in the direct marketing world. A shift that will have a powerful and profound effect on your home based franchise, but only if you apply it correctly AND only if you actually take the action to apply it.
I think that you would agree that whether you are marketing your home based franchise on line or off; your potential customers are carrying with them the “Three S Epidemic.” They are either scared, they are scarred or they are skeptical. Maybe they are all three. The bottom line is that the average consumer is becoming more and more resistant to the sales message.
Let’s go back in history a bit to illustrate this point. I remember in the 80’s, and yes I am dating myself a bit, that when a store was having a 25% discount…that was a huge deal and at times we stood in line to get the bargains.
Slowly, as the 25% off appeal wore off, it went up to 30%, 50% and now it is not uncommon to see a 70% discount, and if you use their store credit card you save an additional 15%. But as the promotions get juicer and better for the consumer, we are also turning the cheek because we are thinking the next big reduction is coming around next week.
Take a look at another industry… the automobile industry. These guys are certainly hurting these days, aren’t they? I don’t know about you, but there are constant parties with free food, the promise of free TV’s, weekend getaways, cash for clunkers and of course a terrific rock bottom deal if you purchase a car that day at the dealerships where I live.
In fact, my dad who plays the saxophone professionally is asked several times a year by one local dealership to come in and play so they can hopefully draw in the crowds to their showroom. It’s interesting, I asked him after his latest gig how the turnout was. What he told me was with each event; the crowds are getting less and less…The offers are just not big enough anymore to get the masses out to look, much less buy.
So what IS working these days in marketing for your home based franchise? It’s what I have been doing for years in sales and marketing and it’s called Soft Marketing.
Soft Marketing is when you don’t even realize you are being marketed and sold to. To illustrate this point, consider Coca-Cola or almost any brand of popular soft drink. Where are the Michael Jackson’s and the flashy dances of yesteryear that promoted and sold these products? You don’t seem them because that is not the soft wave of marketing. For a while Coke’s marketing share was being slowly eaten away by Pepsi and other popular soft drinks. They realized that they needed to change their way of advertising. Coke has made the transition brilliantly and now they soft market by having their products displayed during highly viewed television shows such as American Idol. The judges have their cups showing the Coca-Cola label and that is the advertisement. Icons are recommending the product without one spoken word…soft sell. Think about the movies that we watch with name brand products being used by popular movie stars…soft sell.
One of my favorite commercials these days are the E-Trade commercials. That baby is brilliant. Yes, E-Trade is mentioned, but aren’t you more interested about the kid testing out his vocal pipes and when the next commercial is coming on?
What about many Internet and home based franchise marketers today? They are offering value to their prospective customers. Free training, free on-line seminars, free education courses and eBooks. All of this is not necessarily for their altruistic way of life…it is in hopes that once the customer/potential customer starts to like and trust them…that they will actually go on to purchase their product or service and you are then their customer…you now have been sold something probably without really realizing it. Let’s look at this soft marketing concept for your home based franchise in a bit more detail.
1. You are becoming the expert at what you do. Trust and credibility are two of the most important ways to succeed in any business. I cannot stress the importance of becoming the expert and the leader that people are looking for today.
One of the areas of soft marketing that I always suggest to my clients and team members is article writing. You are providing people value in your area of expertise. You are NOT writing about your product or service. You write an article in hopes of helping and educating potential customers. They start to trust you and follow you as a leader and eventually they take a further look at what your home based franchise and your offer actually is.
I did this all of the time in medical sales. I created newsletters pertinent to my specialty and once a month these newsletters would go out to my customers and potential customers. There might be tips on running a medical office. There might be a study that I came across that they might not have had the time to see. I have even put studies in my newsletters that were actually published by my surgeons and prospective customers. You get the point. I was creating additional value, building the trust and credibility…something that very few sales people do.
2. Give away free reports, eBooks and courses on the topic of your product or service. The philosophy is to educate your customer first and market to them second. To see this soft marketing approach in action…go to my website at and then go to my Recommended Resources. There you will find at least 4 powerful examples of soft marketing by Perry Marshall, Mike Dillard and Ali Brown. All resources that I use, but also resources that have free courses attached to each and every one of them. They are providing you with value and education first and then the marketing afterwards.
An example that I have recently read about is a well known realtor that offers a free report called “10 Ways To Get Top Dollar For Your Home.” It reveals tips on what is valuable and what is not when getting your home ready for sale. With this report, he is now the expert in the potential seller’s mind. Who do you think that seller will go to when they are ready to sell their home? What is an interesting twist to the story is that this realtor has been using the same report for over ten years. It has been estimated that this report has generated about 1.6 MILLION in profits. Are you ready to write your free report now?
3. Partner with a related, but non-competing business. Here is an example that my family used when we owned several restaurants that might get you thinking about how you can incorporate this great soft marketing technique to either your on-line home based franchise or off-line business.
A progressive beauty salon has partnered with our neighboring restaurant. The salon, upon check out, would present a gift certificate to our restaurant for either a free drink or a free appetizer to their customer. Now the beauty (no pun really intended!) of this marketing technique is two-fold… The customer thought the salon was giving this gift certificate for free. The salon is getting the benefit of the customer feeling gratitude and added value and that customer will more than likely be a repeat customer time and time again, creating not only more traffic for the salon, but more traffic for our restaurant. The reality of this marketing technique is that the salon did not purchase that gift certificate…it was paid for by our restaurant. What our restaurant was banking on that by coming in for a free drink or appetizer, this customer will also bring at least one additional paying customer with them. We were also banking on that they will not only have a drink or appetizer, but they will go on to have a full meal, and finally we were banking on repeat business. I can tell you first hand; this soft marketing technique has been profitable for my family since its inception.
If you have a home based franchise, the same technique can easily be incorporated into your business plan. All that is needed is a bit of imagination and finding a similar but non-competing company who might be willing to step outside of the box a bit in marketing.
Put these marketing techniques into your business plan. More importantly take action on them. The results will show you that as home based franchise owner you can ride, thrive and be incredibly profitable during this Perfect Storm in what others are considering as a nasty violent Nor’easter.